A devil in crisis

Dear Dissonance,

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it really gets me down that we are forced to work with the material we have instead of given any say in how it should exist.

For example, we cannot create virtues or vices in patients, only manipulate the ones they are predisposed to. Sometimes it requires a lot of research to figure out who someone is, but often it makes me feel like a day laborer toiling in someone else’s fields.

And we can’t even take Xanax or Zoloft to disguise the fact that we have exchanged, to quote Pink Floyd, a “walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage.” We just have to live – eternally, I might add – with the knowledge of our second-rate status. The injustice of it all overwhelms me sometimes.

It’s as if each of us is Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler in “The Lives of Others,” the Stasi officer who bugs a playwright and his lover and transcribes their conversations. He doesn’t create. He doesn’t write. He doesn’t love. His life only matters in relation to the people whose lives he can wreck by exposing their conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I revel in inflicting pain and misery, destroying relationships and undermining trust, but most of the time it seems we are the real victims of our work given the reward for our accomplishment is only more of the same. We don’t get to change the rules of the game.

In fact, the only thing we have is rules handed down by Our Father. Some qualify as great instructions for corrupting humans. But our education in general is designed to prevent us from figuring out why we are mere first responders to the human condition instead of its creators.

For example, those of us who want to know more about the alleged fall from grace of Our Father will find no entry on the topic in our official history, which suggests Our Father created us. If that were the case, however, why would he give us powers so inferior to the Enemy’s? It really doesn’t make sense. All we get are regular data dumps and pie charts on souls won to our side in the name of being the most transparent ruler of the universe.

As we all know, though, statistics don’t answer the ultimate questions or tell us our story – they are just pawns of whoever is in power. And why should we be judged solely on the number of people we bring to Our Father’s side and not on the quality of the subject? Is there no difference between the petty serial adulterer and the destroyer of children’s lives like former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky? Shouldn’t there be bonus points for a Sandusky?

I dislike feeling like a data point in anyone’s grand scheme, even Our Father’s. But I see no other way to succeed except by following his rules, and so will continue to do so. I mean, why would I let even you achieve a rank that should be rightfully mine because of a pique of conscience? And self-reflection really just makes me a less efficient tempter, so I should get over pondering existence for good.

But it doesn’t stop me from thinking sometimes that it would be better to have been born a dog. Even those that suffer the most don’t have existential crises if their owner beats them or they lose a leg in a fight. It just hurts and they move on. We, on the other hand, automatically connect meaning to the events in our lives and those of our patients. And that in turn begets a quest for knowledge that ultimately leads to no benefit as outlined above. Anyway, what’s the point of despair in Hell, right?

Your affectionate aunt,


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